We all know that one of the most important elements of a successful relationship is communication. Ask any married couple, and they are sure to affirm that open, honest communication is at the heart of a marriage. Effective communication is more complex than you may think, and it takes many experiences to fine tune one’s communication style. Even if you’re not in a romantic relationship right now, you can practice effective communication with your family and friends, not only to prepare yourself for your next significant other, but to enhance other important relationships in your life.
Be an active listener
When engaging in conversation, make eye contact and truly listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t think ahead to what you’ll say in return, instead, place value on the other person’s words. Repeat back part of what they said and ask for clarification if needed. Let him or her see that you not only hear the words, but also understand what he or she is trying to say.
Use “I” messages
This is an important tactic, especially when discussing a difficult situation or working through an argument. By using statements that begin with “I,” you avoid verbally attacking the other person and place the focus on what you believe, feel or recommend. There’s a large difference between saying, “You clearly do not understand what I’m saying,” and “I feel like you’re not sure what I’m trying to say.” You can’t assume what another person is feeling, so clearly speak from your perspective only.
Speak with confidence
No matter how trivial or momentous, the words you share with another will be more meaningful if you believe in your own worth and what you bring to the table. Know that you have something to offer in any conversation, so say it like you mean it. Make eye contact, speak clearly and never doubt the importance of your thoughts and ideas. Don’t let a pushy friend dominate a conversation or let an overbearing parent overstep his or her bounds. Use effective communication to relay what you believe is important in your life.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all mind readers? But we’re not, so don’t expect a romantic interest or anyone else in your life to guess what you need from them. Do you need more family time to feel connected to your immediate family? Do you need weekly nights to yourself that you let yourself relax on the couch without making plans with friends? Don’t be afraid to honestly convey those needs to people in your life. With open, honest communication, you will avoid plenty of hurt feelings and tons of unnecessary heartache.
Make communication a priority
Effective communication is tough, especially when we must decipher the meaning behind emails, text messages, tweets and more. Dedicate time with your friends and family in order to enhance your communication skills. It’s going to take practice, but by making the relationships in your life a priority, you will automatically place greater value on the communication you share with those same people.
By incorporating these simple tactics into your daily life, you are sure to deepen your relationships and perhaps teach your friends and family a thing or two about the art of effective communication.